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Zibanejad Wins All-Star Vote In, but Decides to Skip Game

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Earlier this afternoon the league announced the winners of the “Last Man In” vote and for a short period of time the New York Rangers were one of three teams in the league to send three players to the NHL All-Star Game. However, Mika Zibanejad who took first place in the vote in the Metropolitan division, has since elected to not attend due to personal reasons. Zibanejad was then replaced with the division’s runner up, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel. The two players left representing the Rangers are Chris Kreider and Adam Fox.

There hasn’t been any further news specifying why Zibanejad is unable to attend, but realistically it may be preferable for the Rangers’ top center to get some much needed R&R as the team prepares for a busy end to January. While there is a break in the current schedule after the All-Star Game, this was initially planned out for players to attend the Winter Olympics. Due to the NHL deciding to not participate in the Olympics this year, the league will either make some major adjustments to February’s schedule and/or also use the time to allow teams to make up previously postponed games. The Rangers currently have to reschedule three games, which will more than likely fall during this period.

In the past, the NHL has suspended players for opting out of the All-Star Game. One only has to go back to 2020, as Alexander Ovechkin skipped the All-Star Game and was suspended by the league. It has not been made clear whether the league will uphold this policy this year but with the combined factors of the pandemic, the vague personal reasons cited by Zibanejad, and the fact that this was for the final vote in roster spot and not the actual roster, it seems Zibanejad will not see any consequences.

The All-Star weekend will start off with the Skills Competition at 7:30 PM EST Friday February 4th, 2022. The actual All-Star Game will be played the following Saturday afternoon on February 5th, 3 PM EST. Here’s to hoping Chris Kreider is added to the fastest skater competition again, as he’s had success in the past coming in third overall in 2020. What Skills Competition events would you like to see Kreider and Fox participate in?